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Poverty

The Owl and the Beggar


The owl: undeniably beautiful, but not human


Walking through the centre of Edinburgh last week I was struck by a large crowd gathered on the pavement.  As I approached I noticed that the crowd, made up mostly of tourists, were gawping at a rather large, impressive owl that was perched on its keeper’s arm. 


The crowd pointed, smiled, laughed and took a vast amount of photographs with their mobile phones and state-of-the-art digital cameras.  It was all very pleasing to the owl’s keeper who must have been licking his lips at the prospect of a bumper pay day should even a fraction of those gathered be brave enough to get up close and personal with the beautiful feathered creature and let it sit on their arm.

Dr Halliday Sutherland and the fight against eugenics

If only there were more Dr Halliday Sutherlands today.  Perhaps he would have the courage to stand up for the rights of those who are under threat from the increasing prevalence of assisted suicide in our world.  Perhaps he would have the courage to stand up for the rights of the preborn child under threat of death by abortion.


Dr Halliday Sutherland, born in Glasgow in 1882, was a man who stood up for the people society felt unworthy of life.  He lived in a time when the middle and upper classes of Britain fought for the legal right to sterilise the poor and the seemingly unworthy.

Catholic Love in the Community: Ambanja Girls Home, Madagascar



Madagascar is a country riddled with debt, where the basic right of a child to an education is far down the list of government priorities and public expenditure on children is a paltry £31 per year, leaving very little for a basic, let alone decent, education.


The situation is especially grim for girls who are often denied any form of education so as to allow male siblings to benefit from the opportunity to learn.  Boys, it seems, are best placed to go to school to learn.  Girls, it seems, are better off at home.

Pope Francis: to ignore the poor is to despise God

Pope Francis, during his weekly general audience, has slated those who turn their backs on the poor, suggesting that their ignorance means that they despise God.


The pope stressed that in the poor “we find Jesus himself: whatever you did to the least brothers of mine, you did to me”.


The message is clear: we are called to wake up to the plight of the poor and to make sure we never ignore them.  I recall one of Pope Francis’ early comments on the poor.  He said that we must get close to them as Jesus did, and touch their wounds.

Pope Francis a world leader in love as he gives hope to twelve Muslim migrants

Pope Francis welcomes some of the migrants to Rome

Pope Francis has once again thrust the Catholic Church into the spotlight; this time by bringing a group of twelve Syrian migrants from the island of Lesbos to live in Rome.  The families travelled with the pope back to Italy after he made a visit to the small Greek island last weekend.  It is understood the three families, all Muslim, were fully prepped for the move ahead of the pope’s visit.


The finer details of how all of this will pan out remain to be seen, but the gesture itself is one of great love and generosity on the part of Francis.

Beggars targeted as Nottingham City Council discourages public generosity

The posters erected around Nottingham City Centre urging people not to give to beggars is quite concerning.  Is poverty so abhorrent that it is to be brushed out altogether from our streets?  Is it really appropriate to punish the poor and homeless even more by encouraging the public to refrain from giving them a few pounds that we are able to spare?  One of the posters features a man smoking and urges people not to "watch your money go up in smoke".


It would be fair to say that there may be some beggars who are not necessarily homeless or financially unsound.

A Little Bit of Love for the Homeless this Lent

A number of weeks ago I saw a great post on Facebook about making up gift bags for the homeless.  I followed this up with my own post on the matter and it was warmly welcomed.  But as with a lot of these things the impetus faded and I never really got things properly off the ground.


But thank goodness for Lent!  The season for getting up off my backside and actually doing something positive for those in need is here and I feel the need to respond.  Our call to help the poor is, of course, a year round one but Lent is a great time to really kick-start a new initiative.

Pope Francis Urges the World to Follow Christ’s Commandment to Love

The pope received several standing ovations in Congress
 
Pope Francis, in his historic address to US Congress, has urged the world to follow Christ’s Commandment of love.  The pope used the opportunity to tackle critical issues such as the dignity of human life, the death penalty and the refugee crisis.  He also addressed recent attacks on marriage and family life, and his concerns that the very basis of the family and marriage is being called into question. 
 
Here are the main quotes from the pope’s address to USC ongress this afternoon:

Finding God in the Poorest of the Poor (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 6th September 2015)

Could this man help you find God? 
 
Sunday’s Second Reading (James 2:1-5):
 
‘My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats’; then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.

Refugee crisis: our own homeless are in need of love and attention too

 
It’s a fabulous thing that a number of people have decided to commit to helping the thousands of refugees seeking safety and security in the UK.  Some people have even agreed to house some of the refugees until they get themselves on their feet and secure their own accommodation.  It is a truly remarkable gesture and together with David Cameron’s promise to bring thousands more refugees to the UK, heralds a shift in both the perception of refugees and the way we are willing to treat them.
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